The Republicans at the moment are less a party than an ongoing civil war (with, from a centrist point of view, the wrong side usually winning). There is a dwindling band of moderate Republicans who understand that they have to work with the Democrats in the interests of America. There is the old intolerant, gun-toting, immigrant-bashing, mainly southern right which sees any form of co-operation as treachery, even blasphemy. And muddying the whole picture is the tea-party movement, a tax revolt whose activists (some clever, some dotty, all angry) seem to loathe Bush-era free-spending Republicans as much as they hate Democrats. Egged on by a hysterical blogosphere and the ravings of Fox News blowhards, the Republican Party has turned upon itself (see article). Optimists say this is no more than the vigorous debate that defines the American primary system. They rightly point out that American conservatism has always been a broad church and the battle is not all one way. This week California’s Republicans chose two relatively moderate former chief executives, Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina, to run for governor and the Senate. But both had to dive to the right to win, which will not help them in November. And in neighbouring Nevada the Republicans chose a tea-partier so extreme that she may yet allow Harry Reid, the unloved Democratic Senate leader, to hang on to his seat. Many of the battles are indeed nastier than normal: witness the squabble in Florida, where the popular governor, Charlie Crist, has left the party; Senator Lindsey Graham walking away from climate-change legislation for fear of vile personal attacks; and even John McCain, who has battled with the southern-fried crazies in his party for decades, joining the chorus against Mexican “illegals” to keep his seat. As for ideas, the Republicans seem to be reducing themselves into exactly what the Democrats say they are: the nasty party of No. They may well lambast Mr Obama for expanding the federal deficit; but it is less impressive when they are unable to suggest alternatives. Paul Ryan, a bright young congressman from Wisconsin, has a plan to restore the budget to balance; it has sunk without a trace. During the row over health care, the right demanded smaller deficits but refused to countenance any cuts in medical spending on the elderly. Cutting back military spending is denounced as surrender to the enemy. Tax rises of any kind (even allowing the unaffordable Bush tax cuts to expire as scheduled) are evil. mal left out Out of power, a party can get away with such negative ambiguity; the business of an opposition is to oppose. The real problem for the political right may well come if it wins in November. Just as the party found after it seized Congress in 1994, voters expect solutions, not just rage. The electorate jumped back into Bill Clinton’s arms in 1996. Business conservatives are scouting desperately for an efficient centrist governor (or perhaps general) to run against Mr Obama in 2012. But tea-party-driven success in the mid-terms could foster the illusion that the Republicans lost the White House because Mr McCain was insufficiently close to their base. That logic is more likely to lead to Palin-Huckabee in 2012 than, say, Petraeus-Daniels. The Republicans: What's wrong with America's right | The Economist has the tea party forced the gop so far to the right that the only alternative is the democratic party?